According to the latest edition (May 2010) of The Writer there are 10 Fiction Pitfalls. Okay, this is according to Sam McCarver who happens to be a writing instructor. I'm not going to list all 10 pitfalls, at least not today. No, today, dear lucky readers of this blog, I'm going to focus on pitfall #2! Yup, #2!
According to Mr. McCarver, Pitfall #2 is: don't let narration dominate your story as a whole.
In his words . . .
Many writers think a story should be largely narrated, in the manner of classic literature. But here's a good rule: Fight the urge to narrate. Entertainment today is visual - movies, television, the Internet, cell phones. To compete, fiction must also be visual, using scenes, action, description and dialogue to show a story, rather than narration to tell it. A Story should consist of one scene following another, connected by narration. Write your story as if it will become a movie. Show it visually - in scenes. (p. 26)
Whoa! First, initial thought: show don't tell! Now, haven't we all heard that somewhere before? Of course we have. It's one of the many rules of writing. SHOW - DON'T - TELL!!
Okay, now that I've gotten past my whoa moment.
This is how I write. I'm more about the snappy dialogue, short scenes that carry the reader from one moment to the next to the next to the next, with shorter passages of narration in between. This is what works for me as a writer. Who knew I was doing something right? Ha!
Now, in no way am I saying or even suggesting that writers abandon narration. Guy Gavriel Kay writes some brilliant narration. The majority of his books are narrative in nature and I wouldn't have his books any other way. I love his long passages of narration that wrap around me like a comfortable blanket and lull me into a comfortable world of narration. This is what works for him. This isn't what works for me.
My only point with this post is to talk about what works for me when I'm writing. Yeah, I have narrative passages, but normally, I have more dialogue than narration. I love me some good dialogue.
How about you? More narration than dialogue? More scenes than narration? More this instead of that? Come on, leave your answers in the comments section.
Okay, since I'm feeling generous. The #1 Pitfall: don't put extensive backstory in your first pages. There, I shared! Tune in later this week for another pitfall and my take on said pitfall!